A (Hair) Work of Memory: Mattanna Fairchild’s Decorative Memorial Works in the Post War South



Clark, Lauren

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In the latter half of the 1860s Mattanna Fairchild created a large memorial hair wreath, composed of the hair of those Confederate soldiers who fell during the Battle of Raymond, Mississippi, which happened on her family property. A large decorative piece, which remained in the familial home until 2014, the wreath is densely laden with symbolism. Mattanna's fancy work served to showcase the ideals of the Old South and her beloved Confederacy, the passing of which she mourned alongside the dead. This thesis will argue that memorial handiworks, such as Mattanna Fairchild's massive hair wreath, were part of the same movement among Southern women of the late nineteenth century that saw the erection of Confederate monuments across the nation. These works helped to construct social concepts of race and gender as they related to being “Southern” and aided in making those ideals more palatable to the North, by showcasing white southerners’ gentility and Southern women’s domestic piety.



Mourning, 19th century, Hairwork, Confederate memorialization, Domestic handiwork, Confederate women